The aim of this study was to assess the effects of variations in the volume and intensity of resistance training in highly skilled athletes on neural adaptive mechanisms: the maximality and pattern of neural drive. The maximality of muscle activation was measured using a high-resolution sample and hold amplifier to record interpolated twitches. The pattern of neural drive was measured by analysing isometric torque-time curves and electromyographic (EMG) characteristics during the performance of rapid isometric contractions at maximal effort. The volume and intensity of training were varied at 4-weekly intervals to systematically emphasize the development of strength, power and motor performance in 14 highly skilled track and field athletes (e.g. discus, hammer, javelin, shot put and weight). Knee extension strength increased significantly by 15% during steady maximal isometric contractions and by 24% during rapid isometric contractions at maximal effort after the 16-week training programme (P < 0.05). Increases in EMG amplitude and rate of EMG activation indicated that improvements to the pattern of neural drive occurred with sport-specific resistance training (P < 0.05). The maximality and pattern of neural drive did not change in the control group.